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Madelyn Camrud "The Walk"

NDSU Press

Madelyn Camrud has lived all but nine months of her life in North Dakota. She received degrees in visual arts and creative writing from The University of North Dakota. She taught in the English department before taking a position at the North Dakota Museum of Art, where she served as director of Audience Development. Camrud's poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Kalliope, Painted Bride Quarterly, Descant, and others. Two of her poems were chosen to air on Garrison Keillor's "Writers Almanac." In the spring of 2005, North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode named Camrud an Associate Poet Laureate of North Dakota.  She has published two books of poetry with New Rivers Press, “This House is Full of Cracks” and “Oddly Beautiful”,  and “Songs of Horses and Lovers,” from the NDSU Press.

Transcript:  The poem I’m going to read is called The Walk
I wrote the poem; didn’t like it; what follows is the second version of what I kept;
changed absent of what was lost. You will hear those references to what I kept
or not as part on the poem. You will hear what I saved the title unchanged.

The Walk

I wrote a poem slashed words like unprecedented;
test tube lab experiments, vaccine, Pandemic; Covid

and virus: didn’t like those words, like less what I said—-
negative; have I anything to complain about?

Summer blurred, days erased, weeks of weeks
lost, can’t blame it on disease, more likely aging.

What I saved is the grace of the walk, freedom for me,
under trees, sky and sun. Yes, I’m a fan of weather,

and music; I-phone tuned: BB King singing
Come Together when all we hear is Stay apart. I cut

the Covid image, like a golf ball decorated for Christmas
on TV. Kept the part about the 1918 Flu

to honor my father, Bugler Company C; Camp Custer
soldiers dying, rode bodies home on trains, played taps

for funerals. Saved the boots center of the room;
moves me like that room, Holocaust Museum;

I’ve wondered since what it is about boots, shoes
once walked in; vacant as houses, bones, no flesh.

Maybe the walk they once were is the sadness.
Maybe it’s how life’s rhythm stays—creased

or scuffed in leather, sole worn thin. Could be
shoes are the walk even when no longer worn;

even when your legs won’t carry you anymore.
You’ll find a way to move ahead, shoes or boots—-

leather or not; yours, mine come together—
one step, then two, moving on, moving on.

Poem copyright © 2020 Madelyn Camrud

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